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Author Topic: Motorsports/ProRally and Mobile Installation  (Read 2286 times)

Posts: 2

« on: November 03, 2001, 01:15:36 AM »


Did a search on this topic, and couldn't find nything, so here goes.

I passed my Technician element 2 exam yesterday, and am planning to get some mobile equipment with an eye toward installing mobile units in a rally car and service vehicle for communication during SCCA Pro Rallies.

Rallies are motorsports events where production-based race cars drive over closed (to the public) roads.  Because these events often cover 200+ miles, we need a consistent way to communicate with our service vehicle.

My thoughts so far seem to be as follows:

The 2 meter band seems most reasonable to use; decent simplex range, lots of repeaters (though most will likely be in use by hams working any given event), reasonably cheap equipment.

Current plan is to get a Yaesu FT-1500M mobile unit (2m single band), in each vehicle, with a 5/8 vertical on the service vehicle and a 5/8 or 1/4 vertical on the race car, depending on resistance to brush etc, both roof-mount.  The race car unit will be integrated into the in-car communication system  (Peltor FMT-200).

Any advice is appreciated, including thoughts about the FT-1500M, whether to use a 5/8 or 1/4 vertical on the rally car, and recommendations for specific antennae.

Any reason to get an HT instead of or in addition to one of the mobile units?  Should I go multiband, instead?

Thoughts very much appreciated!

- Christian

PS:  Any interest in seeing such an installation? I'm happy to build a webpage...

Posts: 21764

« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2001, 06:19:18 PM »

FT1500's not a bad choice.  Don't know why you'd want multi-band.  I would definitely recommend AGAINST any kind of "handie-talkie" products, they won't hold up for your application regardless of all sorts of spectacular claims.  

If the rally car driver needs to be the one communicating, I'd definitely recommend some sort of "hands off" voice-operated headset so he can pay attention to driving and not divert attention to other issues.  If the rally car has a navigator in the right seat, this may not be as much of an issue, as the nav guy can be in control of the radio.

I used to drive in a lot of amateur rallies, some of which included off-road driving and pulling a lot of stunts to not build up extra mileage, e.g., backing up at 40mph to retrack after a wrong turn, etc.  And speed was an element in most all of them, so when I knew for certain I was on the right track I'd be going awfully fast -- won't even say how we would typically clobber posted speed limits.  But, then, is there really a speed limit in the woods? (chuckle)

Anyway, that kind of driving requires great attention and not distraction, which is why we had navigators.

Tell us more about what you're doing, it sounds like fun.  But I'd stay away from hand-helds, stick with strongly-mounted, rugged two-way rigs; the FT1500 is probably the bare minimum I'd go with, and even it might start to rattle apart before too long if you go through even half the antics I used to in my rally days.

73!  Steve, WB2WIK/6

Posts: 21764

« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2001, 06:46:09 PM »

Oops.  Forgot to comment on the antennas.

I'd use a 1/4-wave whip on the rally car.  Performance might be down just a tad compared with 5/8-wave, but it's more likely to stay there and not end up tangled in a low hanging tree branch.  And surely, if you go through anything like what I used to go through in driving rallies, you want that whip to be very well attached indeed.  Nothing except a permanently mounted (through hole in the roof) antenna will continue working after hitting a tree branch at 100 mph...

73 de Steve WB2WIK/6

Posts: 103


« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2001, 02:43:39 PM »

I know you mentioned 'closed roads' but from what I
have seen on ESPN, a lot of the driving isn't exactly
on interstate highways and the cars look to take a
pretty good beating.

If you go off-road or do a lot of hard driving, you
might want to look at some Motorola equipment.
Compared to Motorola's hardware, most ham gear is a
delicate flower waiting to be stomped on.

Mobile Motorola equipment at 100-125 watts between
150-174 mHz can be had for next to nothing (certainly
less than ham gear), will take a beating and work
forever. The extra power (double the 1500M) may also
come in handy when you're in the middle on nowhere.

Another thought is if anything you say on the radio
is of value to the competition. If so, you might be
better off with commercial equipment and some sort
of encryption. If nothing else, voice inversion
to slow them down. Neither of these features are
available to hams.

As for the web site, please put it up. I'm curious
enough to take a visit.

Matt (k4mls)

Posts: 2

« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2001, 11:05:34 AM »

W2WIK (Steve) wrote:

>If the rally car driver needs to be the one
>communicating, I'd definitely recommend some sort
>of "hands off" voice-operated headset so he can pay
>attention to driving and not divert attention to
>other issues. If the rally car has a navigator in the
>right seat, this may not be as much of an issue, as
>the nav guy can be in control of the radio.

I'm the navvie; the driver can be counted on for driving fast on stage -- everything else (directions, communication, fuel strategy, service stops, where to eat breakfast) is the responsibility of the navigator.

I'll be handling the communication equipment -- it's actually integrated into the intercom system that I use to give the driver instructions on stage, with a PTT button mounted inboard of my seat.  The intercom system we use has helmets with earcups/mikes for stage racing, and pilot-type headsets for the transits.  We're building a custom connector to connect the radio to the intercom control unit -- Peltor, who makes all this rally comm equipment, actually has very detailed instructions on all this.

>Tell us more about what you're doing, it sounds like

It is.  More information on our team can be found at:    More info on SCCA ProRally in general can be found at


Christian KB3HGF

Posts: 939

« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2001, 02:10:29 PM »

I know that I'm late (2 weeks) coming to this post...
BUT I think that I can add something here!

I may be mistaken but, SCCA Pro Rallies are in essence a  "bussiness"... People spend money, solict sponsors, etc. in order to win prise money and trophies...
Even if you're just a "weekend semi-pro", you're still involved in a "business activity" EVEN if you're NOT going after prise money YOURSELF... You ARE involved in the SCCA's business!!!!  
(unless you were competing in a "charity event"... you ARE competing in a "business event/activity"...)

Maybe I'm being a bit too much of a nit-picker here..
If others think so, I won't quibble...
But, if you were just a bunch of "hobbists" out for a weekend of fun, and everyone "donated" the money to buy a trpohy, etc... then I'd say go with ham radio!
But for a SCCA Pro Rally, you need "pro" / business radio service NOT the amateur radio service...

There are services/freq that will suit you're needs...
VHF/UHF maybe used, simplex or through "2-way business radio repeaters".... you may also find that an HF Land Mobile allocation may work as well....
Please note that since the rise in popularity of cell phones, there are many "2-way radio shops" that have dozens (maybe even hundreds) of radios sitting around,
and their repeaters (which are little used, at least around here) are almost silent on weekends!!!!

Please understand that I welcome you to the ham rafio community!!!  I really do!!!
But it is illegal to use The Amateur Radio Service (Ham Radio) for business communications....

Not to mention that I see so many that think that ham radio spectrum is being squandered and that they (business interests) can put it to better use...
There are those that can (and will) use this "ham's get it for free, and we'll pay for it" line in order to "get" spectrum for their business use... and they will pay for it.. they pay the gov't some money in a spectrum auction and then "presto-chango" we've lost another ham band....
If we (hams) are preceived as "freeloaders" on this very valuable spectrum, sooner or later we'll lose it!!
And what better way to be preceived that way, than to use ham radio as a cheap/free alternative to legitimate
"2-way / business radio"....

As I stated above, I do NOT want to come off as some
whinny, "by the book" jerk!!! But rather just an observer of a trend ~~~~ the blurring of what the Amateur Radio Service IS !!!!

John,  KA4WJA

P.S.  I own/operate my own business and I use business radios for business and ham radios for fun/public service.... The radios aren't that expensive....
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